Eusebio Cup 2013: Key Players to Watch in Prestigious Preseason Match

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2013

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 14:  Ezequiel Garay of Benfica smiles during an SL Benfica training session ahead of the UEFA Europa League Final match against Chelsea at the Amsterdam Arena on May 14, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Sao Paulo and Benfica meet in the Eusebio Cup for what should be an entertaining 90 minutes of football.

The Eusebio Cup is so named for the greatest Portuguese player in the history of football. As a player, Eusebio helped Benfica win 11 league titles and a European Cup in 1962. When you think of Portuguese football, you think of Eusebio.

Benfica always take part in this match, so it's appropriate their opponents are a highly regarded international club as well.

Sao Paulo are in the middle of their season. They've struggled so far, losing six of their 11 matches and drawing another three.

Benfica are just trying to move onto the new season and forget about their disappointments of the 2012-13 campaign. They lost the league title, Europa League title and their domestic cup all within a span of a few weeks.

Although this is a just a friendly, both teams will be looking to put in a good effort.

Here are two players from each club to spotlight in this friendly.



Ezequiel Garay

It's surprising that Ezequiel Garay remains a Benfica player. With a player of his quality, you generally see Portuguese clubs selling on and reaping the financial reward. It's a good thing Benfica has managed to hold on to Garay, though, as he's a very underrated centre-back.

The 26-year-old is very intelligent on the pitch. You don't see Garay getting himself into trouble by making rash decisions. He knows exactly how to disrupt passing lanes and when and where not to slide into tackles.

Sao Paulo have some attacking talent. They'll be able to get themselves some very good efforts on goal. It's going to be up to Garay to lead the line and make sure his teammates are where they need to be. If necessary, Garay will need to make that last-ditch tackle.


Nicolas Gaitan

As soon as he made the move from Argentina in 2010, Nicolas Gaitan has been a key player for Benfica. In 74 league appearances, he has 13 goals and 22 assists.

Gaitan is very versatile on the pitch. He can fill in at a lot of midfield positions and play whatever you need him to during the match.

While his goal totals aren't astounding, Gaitan has the ability to score from long range. He's got an eye for the goal when the shot is there.

Gaitan is at his best, though, when setting up his teammates. He's so composed on the ball and has the vision to find the best attacking option on the pitch.


Sao Paulo


Jadson is a great example of how the Brazilian league has grown over the past few years. Normally a veteran Brazilian player like Jadson would have been off-limits for Sao Paulo. Instead, the club was able to bring him in after a very productive spell with Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 29-year-old had five goals and nine assists in 35 league appearances last season. He was good enough to get called up by Luiz Felipe Scolari for the 2013 Confederations Cup, although he didn't feature in the tournament much at all.

Jadson can be a threat from the centre of midfield or provide some width on either wing.



Not too long ago, Ganso was just as promising a Brazilian footballer as Neymar. Injuries have done a lot to limit Ganso on the pitch, and his stock has dropped precipitously as a result.

At 23 years old, there's still time for the midfielder to get his career on track and make a move to a European club.

Ganso is one of those names you've heard about for years but likely have never seen him on the pitch. This friendly is a good opportunity to get a good look at what kind of player Ganso is.

He is still very skilled on the ball. Given his various knee injuries and subsequent surgeries, Ganso is not able to make darting runs through a defence. Instead, he can pick apart the opposition with some brilliant passing.

Ganso badly needs to get a move to Europe in order to further his career. This friendly is a great opportunity for him to make an impression.